COURTS

Truck driver jailed over death of mainlander

Man whose truck hit young accountant, sparking online storm, gets 4 years

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 September, 2014, 3:41am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 September, 2014, 5:53am

A truck driver was jailed for four years yesterday for killing a mainland accountant whose death sparked online debate over deep-rooted cross-border conflicts between locals and mainlanders.

Liu Sai-ki, 34, was convicted in July of dangerous driving leading to the death of Stephanie Liu Han, 25.

The mainlander was reported to be a high-achieving graduate of the University of Hong Kong who worked for accounting giant Ernst and Young.

The District Court heard earlier that the driver failed to stop at a zebra crossing outside Splendid Place in Quarry Bay on October 5 last year.

The truck hit the young accountant, flinging her three metres. She later died at the Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital after multiple operations.

Judge Eddie Yip Chor-man rejected a contention by defence counsel Shirley Hung yesterday that the offence merited a lenient sentence.

Hung said Liu Sai-ki's driving had been quite dangerous. "The unfortunate event stemmed from inaccurate estimations and momentary carelessness," she said.

Her client had become too accustomed to that section of the road, and developed a habit of only looking left when passing.

"Does that mean we have to ask all pedestrians on the right to stay away [whenever his truck passes]?" Yip shot back, saying Hung's reasoning made the driving more irresponsible, deserving a heavier sentence.

He said the defendant had all along failed to give a reason for his distraction seconds before the impact.

Yip also cited an expert's opinion that the driver would have had a clear view of Stephanie Liu 40 metres before the point of impact.

As well as imposing a four-year jail term, he suspended Liu Sai-ki's licence for seven years and ordered that he sit all driving tests before regaining it.

Stephanie Liu's death sparked a string of abusive comments online, some describing her as part of the "mainlandisation of Hong Kong".

After sentencing yesterday, postings on several news sites - apparently by Hong Kong users - expressed the wish that she should rest in peace.

On Weibo, however, mainland internet users accused Hongkongers of being hypocritical, with some claiming locals had displayed more compassion for a dog that was recently run over by an MTR train than they had shown for Stephanie Liu.